International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists

Rabbi Englander's Letter to MK Yitzchak Herzog

Dear Mr. Herzog,

Please forgive my delay in writing to you.  I want to thank you for taking the time to meet with Yaron and me, and to discuss issues of common concern.  I feel that we have developed an understanding of how we can work together within the National Institutions to further the values that both our organizations hold dear.

In this regard, I wish to specify one issue, and that is the invective that the Progressive religious streams have been receiving from ultra-Orthodox leadership both within and outside the Knesset – especially with regard to the proposed egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel.  I suggest that the Kotel is not the main issue, but is rather a symbol of the vision we share for an egalitarian, pluralistic and democratic State of Israel, a state in which all Jews will feel at home.  To be silent in the face of the recent diatribes is to give tacit consent to those who have a very different vision of a Jewish State.

This issue becomes all the more alarming in light of the data released recently in the Pew study, showing a deep divide within Israel along religious and ideological lines.  The study also indicates that Diaspora Jews are becoming more disillusioned with the policies of the Israeli government; this may lead to a serious rift between the Israeli and Diaspora communities.

I raise these matters because I believe that we are now engaged in a battle for Israel’s soul.  In this battle, the Zionist Camp and ARZENU are allies in uniting the liberal voices, both in Israel and abroad.  We are doing our share to speak up against the forces of racism and totalitarianism, and we hope that your party will do the same.  As we discussed, the Zionist Camp is a conduit to the Knesset for ARZENU; it is through you that our values can be expressed within Israel’s governing bodies.  I feel confident in sharing these thoughts with you after listening to your stirring address to the recent World Zionist Congress; in that speech, you expressed an eloquent vision of what Israel could become.  We in ARZENU are ready and willing to join our voice to yours.

I hope you will have a chance to read the resolution that I left with you, calling for the establishment of a Transitional Justice Commission, and I look forward to your comments.  This is but one example of how we can make common cause in our efforts toward justice, democracy and peace in our beloved State of Israel.

We have much work ahead of us, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

שלום וברכה,


Rabbi Larry Englander


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